Isn’t it a pleasure when a good friend invites you to share her virtual kitchen? Monsoon Spice has been one of my favourite Indian blogs since I started blogging. Over years Sia and I have shared our highs and lows, as well as a common kitchen at Beyond Curries. It gives me great pleasure to share space with her after quite some time!
These are made with only three main ingredients – cashews, sugar and water.
Recipe: Kaju Barfi (Cashew Candy Squares)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 7-10 minutes
Makes: 12 pieces
Shelf Life: Lasts easily for about 15-20 days in room temperatur
Cashew powder – 1 cup / 144g
White sugar – ½ cup level / 109g
Water – ½ cup, 2 tbsp. less / 95g
Crushed cardamom powder – ¼ tsp. (Optional)
Saffron strands – 4-5 (Optional)
Oil to grease tray (Optional)
Rectangular jelly tray measuring 3×6 inches OR a plate
(A jelly pan will ensure that no pieces go waste – ideally you require a pan that measures 3 x 3”)
If using saffron, warm the threads slightly (do not let the strands shrivel) and pound into a powder.
If using cardamom, use only green cardamom. Remove the pods and crush into a fine powder adding a teaspoon of sugar to make the process easy. Set aside to use when needed.
If preparing cashew powder at home, use cashews that are fresh, with a bite and not soft. Place cashews in mixer, blend lightly to break them into smaller pieces. Stop and scrape sides and repeat in several turns giving rest in between, so that the cashews do not turn release oil and turn into a paste. The perfect texture for barfis are attained when cashews are powdered and not a paste. Measure one cup of powder and set aside.
Place water, sugar and saffron/cardamom (if using) in a heavy wok. Cook on medium heat till the sugar completely dissolves and turns slightly sticky, about 4-5 minutes. Dip the edge of a spoon into the syrup. Blow as it will be extremely hot and touch the syrup in the spoon with your forefinger and press it to your thumb while still warm. If it has reached the one thread stage you will be able to draw a thread of sugar at least a centimetre when you release your thumb from the forefinger. If the thread breaks in between it shows that the syrup is still undercooked or is in the half thread stage. Reduce heat and cook for just a few seconds more and try. Every second counts as sugar caramelizes very fast. If there are two threads instead of one, sprinkle a few drops of water, mix and check again.
When you are satisfied that the one-thread consistency has been achieved, add the powdered cashews and mix well, cutting and tossing the mixture till the cashew comes together and leaves a trail in the wok, about five minutes. Use a pair of tongs to hold the wok steady and work quickly.
Pour the paste all over the surface of a greased jelly tray/baking tray or plate. Let cool for two minutes. Spread an aluminium foil or plantain leaf over the candy and smoothen the surface with a greased bowl. The foil/leaf is not necessary but it gives the best finish.
Let cool for about five to ten minutes and etch lines to cut into desired shape. I am a bit of a perfectionist and use a scale to do make neat rectangular or square pieces!
Cool till the Kaju Barfis are no longer sticky and are firm to touch, about twenty minutes. Cut along the etched lines and remove them with the pancake turner.
Store in a clean, airtight box. These last for a fortnight at room temperature easily but I wonder whether they will last even a day as they are not the kind of sweets that go untouched.